October 9, 2012 4:12 pm by Stephanie Baum
Communication is a critical component of healthcare, particularly when you consider the potential for miscommunication in a hectic environment when a delay or misunderstanding can cause needless complications for patients with the potential for catastrophic results. About 70 percent of sentinel events in a healthcare setting are caused by communication lapses.
With nurses taking on more responsibility, theneed for finding ways to improve communication is likely to increase. Here are fourhealth IT and communicationstartupsthat are developing and providing devices to improve patient outcomes.
Voalte: After raising $ 6 million in a series B round, Sarasota, Florida-basedVolate is adding 100 jobs to its 50-strong ranks. The communications firm works with companies to modernize their outdated communications systemas its platform for iPhones and iPadsand desk based computers relies on the providers’ Wi-Fi system. The platform integrates phone calls, alarms and alerts. It shows users which clinical care team members are available. The clinical care team platformhelps nurses delegate by showing which staff are available at any given time. If a patient needs the bathroom orif they trigger an alert a nurse can delegate that task and eithertype their own message orchoose froma list of frequently sent requests. Thesystem also confirms when a messagehas been read.
Carex: The Indianapolis startup’s cloud based platform, Handoffsfor Extended/Assisted Living, has honed in on an area vulnerable for communication errors: shift changes. It pulls basic information about each patient from the facility’s electronic medical records toa computer or iPad. Nurses can carry the iPad and use the program to make notes about patients during their shift. When they are ending their shift, nurses digitally hand over the patients to the incoming nurses, who are prompted to accept them when nurses log in to HEAL and begin their shift.Once the new nursesaccept the patient load, thedepartingnurses are notified by text message. The incoming nurses get access to any notes made about that patient by the previous nurses, with the most recently edited patient records appearing at the top of the screen.
Gweepi Medical:Its adult diaper sensor for healthcare providers such as nursing homes can help track incontinence. The Cambridge, Massachusetts health tech company uses a wireless sensor and software system and when it is wet it sends an alert to nursing staff. It alsokeeps track of the time and severity of each episode, providing the opportunity for a more personalized care plan with the additional data.
Starling Health: The New York City company’s two-way communication devices are positioned at the bedside so patients can contact nurses when they need to get out of the bed for medication or a bathroom visit. One goal of the system is to improve staff efficiency in carrying out these tasks. There are also touchscreen icons for patients who aren’t as computer savvy. Calls can be routed to different staff members, depending on the type of call, in order to dispatch the most suitable level of care. And it’s multilingual.